Sunday, January 14, 2024

Why you should be blogging or YouTubing

It looks like blogging isn't as popular as it used to be. YouTubing has become more popular. I still prefer blogs over YouTube videos.

If you're trying to improve your knowledge and understanding about the various topics surrounding Christianity and Christian apologetics, you really should be blogging or YouTubing. It is possible to read a whole book with your mind in neutral and remember almost nothing of what you read. But if you have to explain it to somebody else, then you have to learn it. If you are introduced to a new idea in a book you read, it's a good idea to blog on it because blogging on it forces you to understand the idea. You may find that in the process of writing the blog, you have to go back over what you read a few times as a reminder. Engaging with the ideas in this way will make it stick in a way that it wouldn't have if all you did was read about it.

Blogging has the added benefit of allowing you to engage with other people on the topics you are learning about. If you're lucky enough to have people comment on your blog posts, you'll be forced to think even harder about the subject because you'll want to respond to those comments in a thoughtful way. Even if you don't respond, you'll at least get to see a different take on the subject, and you'll get some feedback that reveals how well you understood (or misunderstood) the topic and how well you were able to communicate your thoughts on it. All of this engagement will make the information you're learning about stick even better. It will also improve your ability to communicate clearly.

If I'm reading a book that I plan to write about later, I take notes. Taking notes also makes the ideas stick. It's crazy, but I remember quotes from books I read a couple of decades ago because I took notes and because I used the quotes in things I wrote later on. When I take notes, I include both quotes and summaries. Quotes are useful if you plan to write reviews or use the book or article as a source later on, but writing summaries is really useful for both understanding and memory. You'll want your summaries to be accurate, so you'll be forced to read carefully enough to understand what you are reading. If you can accurately summarize a passage you are reading, you should understand it well enough to explain it to somebody else.

I encourage you to blog or find some medium that involves writing. I know a lot of people are reluctant to blog because they think, "Who am I to pontificate on this subject or tell other people how things are as if I know something?" I had that same thought when I started this blog. But the purpose of this blog wasn't primarily to inform the world. It was to hone my own noetic structure--to express myself in the hopes of getting feedback and pushback so that I could improve intellectually. You don't have to put yourself out as an expert on a subject to justify writing about it. It's just a blog after all. You can use your blog to bounce ideas off of other people.

But blogging is also a release when you have a lot of pent up thought and imagination running through your head after reading something, and you're just dying to get it off your chest.

With that being said, you don't have to be an expert on a topic before your opinion is valuable. People often have interesting things to say about topics that are new to them. Everybody is entitled to having a point of view, however ill-informed it might be. If you had to be an expert on a topic before you were justified in expressing a point of view, there would be no reason for most of us to ever have interesting conversations with each other about these things. I'm often curious what people think about a topic when they are not experts. I'm often curious what people's initial impressions are upon first hearing about something or having it explained to them. A lot of my blog posts are just that--intitial impressions upon first being introduced to something.

YouTubing may be useful in the same way that blogging is, but I really think writing is better. If the way you YouTube involves writing scripts, then I suppose that's just as good since you are writing.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

What do Jehovah's Witnesses believe?

Somebody recently asked me what Jehovah's Witnesses believe. I used to know a lot about Jehovah's Witnesses. I read several of their books, a ton of their magazine articles, and I dialogued with them on beliefnet and in person. But it has been many years since I've read any of their material or even talked much with them. I've forgotten a lot. But I wrote an email explaining as best I can remember what the big ticket items were with Jehovah's Witnesses, focusing especially on areas where they differ from other Christians.

The best way to learn what Jehovah's Witnesses believe is to get their little book, Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. Or it used to be anyway. They put out a newer book that contains pretty much the same information called What Does the Bible Really Teach?. Either of these books will give you the basics, and they're both pretty short. I've always thought that if you want to learn what other religions, deminations, sects, or whatever teach, it's best to get it from the horse's mouth. People do tend to misrepresent others, especially when they disagree with them. It's not always intentional, but it happens.

For those who just want the basics at a glance, here is the email I wrote. If there are any Jehovah's Witnesses reading this who think I got anything wrong, left anything important out, or just want to elaborate on what I wrote, please leave a comment. Without further ado. . .

You've asked me a few times now what Jehovah's Witnesses believe, so I thought I'd write it all out for you as best I can remember. I used to be pretty heavy on Jehovah's Witnesses, but it's been a long time. This is mostly about how Jehovah's Witnesses are distinguished from every other Christian sect.

1. JW's believe God chose their organization to be his mouthpiece in the end times. They believe their organization, which is run by the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, was appointed by Jesus around 1918 to be the "faithful and discreet slave" mentioned in Matthew 24 to "give them their food at the proper time." They believe their organization is God's "sole channel of communication," and that one must be part of their organization in order to receive salvation. The governing body publishes their material through the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. They believe these publications contain the "food at the proper time." They study this literature on a weekly basis. When talking to each other, they refer to each other as being "in the truth" because they believe it is only through their organization that God is revealing his truth to mankind. They do not believe that one can simply study the Bible and arrive at the truth; one must study the Bible through the lense of their literature.

2. JW's believe that the second coming of Jesus happened in 1914. Whereas most Christians believe Jesus will physically return to earth, JW's believe the meaning of the second coming is that Jesus will be present in kingdom power. This means Jesus actually was enthroned as King in 1914. This isn't a physical return to earth. Rather, it's the beginning of Christ's kingdom. They also believe the beginning of WWI was the result of Jesus being enthroned in heaven. His enthronement caused a war between Satan and God's angels, which somehow manifested itself in WWI.

3. Since JW's believe they are part of the heavenly kingdom, they maintain a degree of separation from the political affairs of the world. They don't vote or take political office. Many of them avoid any type of government work, but that is mostly a matter of individual conscience. They also don't join the military or engage in any type of warfare. It isn't because they are necessarily pacifists, but because they believe they are to maintain a separation from worldly politics.

4. Whereas most Christians believe God is a trinity, JW's believe God is a unity. In their view, Jehovah created Jesus. Then Jesus created the rest of the cosmos. Jesus was the only thing Jehovah created directly. Everything else was created through Jesus. Since Jesus is created, he is not part of a trinity. He is subordinate to the Father, and only the Father is Jehovah. Prior to the incarnation, Jesus was Michael the Archangel. Whereas most Christians believe the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Trinity, Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe the Holy Spirit is a person at all. In their view, the Holy Spirit is more like a force. They sometimes refer to it as "God's active force."

5. It is very important to JW's to use God's proper name, which is Jehovah. Jehovah is an Anglicised version of the divine name, which is transliterated from Hebrew as YHWH. There are no vowels in the old Hebrew. The Hebrew name for God is sometimes called the tetragrammaton. While Jehovah shows up in the King James Version, most Christians these days use Yahweh as God's proper name. Nobody actually knows how God's name was originally pronounced because Jews stopped pronouncing it out loud a long time ago, and because there are no vowels in ancient Hebrew.

6. JW's do not believe we survive as disembodied souls when we die. When we die, we essentially cease to exist. Jehovah remembers us perfectly and uses his memory of us as a blueprint for reconstructing us at the resurrection. Almost all Christians believe in a resurrection at the end of the age. Whereas a lot of Christian understand a "soul" to be something like a ghost, JW's understand it as referring to a living person. When God breathed life into Adam, Adam became a living soul. According to JW's, our spirit is an animating force that causes us to be alive. It is not something capable of conscious disembodied existence.

7. Jesus did not physically rise from the dead. When Jesus died, he ceased to exist. The resurrection of Jesus involved him being recreated again as a spirit person in heaven. The body that lay in the tomb was disposed of by Jehovah, so the empty tomb really had nothing to do with Jesus rising from the dead. Jehovah got rid of the body in order to avoid confusion. The appearances of Jesus after his resurrection were similar to how angels appeared to Abraham and Lot. Jesus manifested himself temporarily in a physical way, but he was not actually physical.

8. JW's believe there are two classes of Christians--those with a heavenly hope, and those with an earthly hope. Those who have the heavenly hope are made up of 144,000 people. Most of them were chosen during the first century, but some of them were chosen during the 20th century. The resurrection of the 144,000 began when Jesus was enthroned in 1914. Since that time, whenever a member of the 144,000 dies, they are immediately resurrected in heaven as spirit beings. They do not have a physical resurrection. For everybody else, they will be physically resurrected on earth at the end of the age.

9. At some point, Jesus is going to overthrow all the governments on earth and establish God's kingdom on earth. This event is called Armageddon, the eschaton, or the end of the age. Once Jesus takes over, he will rule earth for 1000 years. The 144,000 will reign with him as kings and priests. The rest of Jehovah's Witnesses will be resurrected around the beginning of the escahton (my memory is a little fuzzy about the timing). During the 1000 year reign, Satan will be bound so that he has no influence in the world anymore. The earth will be restored to paradise conditions. I think those of us who were not Jehovah's Witnesses will be resurrected sometime during the 1000 year reign, possibly toward the end of it. Again, my memory is fuzzy. Around the end of the 1000 year reign, Satan will be released for one last hurrah. He will wage a war against Jesus, and he will lose. Once he loses, he and everybody who followed him will be snuffed out of existence. Everybody who is left will have eternal life on a paradise earth, except for the 144,000. I'm not sure what they do after the 1000 year reign. Once Jesus has destroyed Satan along with everybody else who didn't take Jesus' side, Jesus will hand the kingdom back over to Jehovah.

10. It is very important for JW's to maintain a degree of separation from the world. They don't want to engage in any activity that might have any hint of paganism, which is why they don't celebrate any birthdays or holidays. The only thing they celebrate is their annual memorial service, which is where they commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus. During this service, only those who think they are members of the 144,000 partake of communion. The rest just watch.

11. There are some other minor issues that JW's tend to make a big deal about. For example, they think Jesus died on a simple upright pole rather than a cross shaped structure. This is another area where they just want to avoid anything that might smack of paganism. They think the cross is a pagan symbol. Another minor issue that is very important to them concerns blood. They believe the command to abstain from consuming blood applies to blood transfusion. So not only will they not eat blood, but they will not take it into their body through blood transfusions either.

There are a lot of other things that distinguish Jehovah's Witnesses, but these are all the big ticket items. At least the ones that I can remember.

12. Oh yeah, and they also have their own Bible translation. It's called The New World Translation. They believe it is superior because whereas most English translations substitute "LORD" for the divine name, theirs uses "Jehovah." Most people think it's a terrible biased translation, though.

Sam

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Motive mongering in the abortion debate

While motive-mongering is a big pet peeve of mine, I find it hard not to speculate about the motives of other people. I pretty much always keep those thoughts to myself, though.

I've complained about pro choice people engaging in motive mongering before ("Have pro-choicers given up?"). The go-to tactic of pro-choicers these days is to say that what's really motivating pro-lifers is not a concern for the unborn, but just the desire to control women. After all, pro-lifers allegedly only care about people before they are born. Once they are born, they no longer care.

Besides being wrong about the motives of pro-lifers, these speculations are irrelevant. They amount to ad hominem fallacies. They suffer from irrelevance because they have nothing to say about the morality of abortion. They neither refute any pro-life arguments nor defend any pro-choice arguments. By themselves, they tell you absolutely nothing about whether or not it's okay to have an abortion.

While it bothers me how much weight pro-choicers seem to think their irrelevant motive-mongering carries, it bothers me a whole lot more when I see pro-lifers engaging in the same behavior. I've seen pro-lifers attribute some of the worst motives to pro-choicers. For example, they'll say people only take the pro-choice position so they can endulge their sexual lusts without consequences. Or they'll liken the pro-choice denial of the personhood of the unborn to the dehumanization of other races, the motive being to discriminate against them and deny them their rights.

One reason it bothers me so much when pro-lifers engage in motive-mongering is because I'd like for those who are on my side to be above all that silliness. But it bothers me even more because I think it does damage to our message. We should want to persuade people, not insult them. People tend to stop listening to you when you attack them personally.

The major problem with motive-mongering, besides being irrelevant, is that when you speculate about somebody else's motives, the other person always knows better than you do whether or not you are right. Each of us has direct and immediate access to the content of our own mental states in a way that nobody else does. If you are wrong about the motives you attribute to another person, then they know it. And if you keep insisting on it, then they also know that you're a fool. Why should they have any future interest in anything you have to say once you have exposed yourself as being a fool?

Even if you happen to be right about their motives, the fact that you are trying to shame them will make them resistant to being honest with themselves about their motives. People will delude themselves by rationalizing in order to avoid ethical pain until they convince themselves that their motives are pure, at which time, they will still think you are a fool.

Can we please stop the motive-mongering? It doesn't do anything but give you the illusion of moral superiority while simultaneously causing you to lose all credibility with the person you are trying to persuade.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

What is reasoning?

There are some things we have in common with computers. When we reason, we use logic. There are also logic circuits built into computers. I remember learning about these in my first engineering class in college. There's AND, NAND, OR, NOR, and so on. There are specific outputs given specific inputs. They work in a way that's not unlike deductive logic.

Recently, I was reading through some comments (I don't even remember where), and somebody described what computers do as reasoning. While I can see why I person might think of it that way, that is not how I think about reasoning. To me, reasoning is a conscious process. If you don't have consciousness, then you don't have reason.

A computer with logic gates behaves mechanistically and blindly. They don't actually think. When we reason, we do not just passively process information. We draw conclusions from premises by mentally "seeing" that the conclusion follows from the premises. There's an intuition involved in reasoning because it is by intuition that we recognize the logical relationship between various statements and propositions. In order to reason, we have to process and understand the meaning of the information we receive in a way that computers don't.

I am tempted to say the difference between what we do when we reason and what computers do when they process information using logic gates is even more apparent when we move away from math and deductive reasoning and more into inductive reasoning. I'm not sure, though. On the one hand, the conclusions of inductive arguments are not logically required in the same way the conclusions of deductive arguments are. On the other hand, there are algorithms that allow computers to form generalizations. On the third hand, those algorithms have to be able to be reduced to deductive processes. Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to code them. I'm not sure that's true when people reason inductively. It might be, though.

Often when we reason inductively, a lot of that reasoning is subconscious. For example, when we have negative experiences, we automatically anticipate the same negative experience under similar circumstances. We start avoiding those circumstances because of this anticipation, but we don't have to explicitly think anything like, "Every time I have been faced with these circumstances in the past, it has resulted in unpleasantness; therefore, I should expect the next time I run up against these circumstances, it will also result in unpleasantness; therefore, I should avoid those circumstances." Any baby or animal can learn through experience that fire is hot, for example, without having to go through a set of propositions and a conclusion. If humans come to conclusions through subconscious processes, and we consider that "reasoning," then is consciousness really necessary for reasoning?

I still say yes. Everything about this subconscious way of coming to a conclusion still requires consciousness. There's the conscious experience of feeling the heat from the fire, the conscious experience of dreading future contact with the fire, etc. Any conclusion we reach results in a belief, and a belief is something that requires consciousness. A belief does not have to be expressed in words. A dog probably has no idea how to express the thought, "Fire is hot," but he still knows it's true. Language isn't necessary for belief or thought, but consciousness certainly is.

That is not to say we have to constantly be thinking about or giving mental attention to a belief in order to have a belief. If I were presently consumed with thoughts about pizza, and diamonds were the furthest thing from my mind, I would still have a belief that diamonds were hard. You don't have to be presently thinking about something in order to have a belief about it. A belief can be stored like a memory where it can be recalled, but it doesn't have to be right in front of our mental gaze.

I know I've rambled a bit. I'm just thinking out loud. The bottom line is that I don't think computers reason, at least not in the usual sense of the word. While there are similarities between what computers do and what minds do, I think the major difference is in whether the process is blind and mechanistic, like a computer, or whether it involves intuitively "seeing," as well as understanding, like a mind. The way we draw conclusions by thinking things through is not how computers arrive at outputs, even when those outputs are expressed in words.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Relationships are important

By "relationships," I mean family, friends, and romantic relationships. Close human connection in general is what I'm talking about.

I used to know a woman who thought it was a sign of weakness if somebody felt like they needed other people. I always disagreed with that. We are a social species. The fact that we are a social species is a strength, not a weakness. It's the reason we developed language, why our brains got so powerful, how we were able to develop civilizations, etc. Since we are a social species we rely on each other, not only in a cooperative way, but in an emotional way, too.

I haven't always had this opinion, but it has gotten stronger the older I've gotten. Ironically, the older I get, the less I feel the need to have a lot of social interaction. But I still believe social interaction is very important for our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

This is true not only for extroverts, but for introverts like myself, too. In my case, I have always been happy with a small circle of close friends. I don't enjoy large gatherings of people I barely know. But since I become more content with solitude the older I get, I actually have to make a conscious effort to maintain personal relationships. If you're married and have a family, it probably requires more effort to get a little alone time than to invest in your relationships, but if you're single and live alone, like me, then it requires effort to be social.

Anyway, this video from Veritasium came up on my feed today, and I wanted to share it with you. It's about this 50 year on-going study about what makes people happy. It confirms a lot of what I've come to believe about the importance of social connection, friendship, and even marriage. I think it is a grave mistake to consider one's need to have companionship to be a weakness. It is not a weakness. It's simply the way we were designed. People who have more fulfilling relationships tend to have better health, better mental acuity, they live longer, and they are happier. It's worth it to put in the effort. I'm not just preaching to you, either. I'm preaching to myself. I haven't done that great of a job working at, pursuing, and nurturing relationships, especially since the pandemic.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Are EV's worth it?

Earlier this year I started thinking about getting a car with better acceleration. It can be stressful trying to merge onto an interstate when your car has no get up and go. Having a car without good acceleration is frustrating sometimes.

I discovered that EV's (particularly Teslas) have really good acceleration. This sent me down a rabbit hole learning about EV's and the EV market. Now I want to express an opinion based on what I've learned.

One of the major appeals of EV's is that they don't spit out pollutants or carbon dioxide. They're environmentally "clean." While that is true, it is offset by the fact that you have to charge them. That electricity has to come from somewhere. Most of the power in the electrical grid comes from burning fossil fuels. Due to the second law of thermodynamics, the more energy conversions you have between the source and the use, the less efficiency you're going to have. If you have to convert fuel to heat, then to mechanical energy in a turbine, then electrical energy in a generator, then send it out in the electrical distribution system, raising and lowering voltages through transformers, then store it as chemical energy in your battery, then convert it into mechanical energy in the car's motor, you're losing a lot more efficiency than if you're just burning fuel in your engine, turning it to mechanical energy, and making your car go. So probably you're burning more fossil fuels using an electric car than you are a gas powered car.

Also, it requires a lot of heavy machinery to mine the lithium, cobalt, and other minerals required to make those batteries, and that also burns fossil fuels. And I'm not sure how environmentally friendly those batteries are and whether disposing of them will be an issue in the future.

Another issue with EV's is that they don't have the range of gas powered cars. I think this is a problem that can be fixed as battery technology improves. Right now, though, it causes what people are calling "range anxiety."

Infrastructure is also a big problem, but this is only a temporary inconvenience that can be fixed with time. There weren't gas stations everywhere when gas powered cars were invented either. At the time, though, range anxiety is a consequence of both the low range of EV's and the paucity of charging stations, especially in rural areas.

It takes longer to charge a car than it does to fill your car with gas. That's going to be a real pain for people who are driving long distances. I think improvements can be made, but it's always going to be an issue. Maybe it'll just be something we adjust to.

Most people who own EV's will probably charge their car over night at home. That won't work for people who live in apartments, though. Europe wants to ban gas powered cars altogether. If they do, apartments are going to have to supply their parking lots with charging stations. A lot of people in the U.S. want to ban gas powered cars, too. That will either create a huge headache for people who live in apartments, or it will cause a headache for people who build apartments. Rents will have to go up if they're going to be forced to provide charging stations.

Most people buy used cars. I've never bought a new car. EV's have a major disadvantage when it comes to used cars, though. As the battery ages, the range of the car is diminished. When the battery wears out, the car becomes totaled because it costs more to replace the battery than the car is worth. Nobody is going to want to buy used EV's because the battery will already have diminished capacity. You can't keep a used EV running indefinitely just by taking really good care of it like you can with a gas powered car. Used gas powered cars don't lose range as they get older either. They just have more maintenance issues.

I question whether EV's will be good to have in snowstorms. If you're stuck somewhere because of a blizzard, you're probably better off being stuck in a gas powered car. At least then you can keep it running and stay warm. I'm not sure how long an EV would last in those conditions. I also don't know how much running the air conditioner or heater affects range. I've heard the batteries don't work as well when it's really cold or really hot. Heat is a bigger issue than cold for me personally, since I'm from Texas, but I'm just thinking about the rest of the world, especially our neighbors to the north.

Running out of gas in the middle of nowhere is an issue, but it's a bigger issue with an EV. With an EV, you're more likely to run out of charge because charging stations are fewer and farther between, and you don't get as much range anyway. With a gas car, somebody can bring you a gallon or two of gas so you can get to the next gas station. With an electric car, somebody will have to come along with a way to charge your battery. I don't know if anything like that even exists yet. You'd probably just have to get your car towed.

The batteries used in EV's require lithium, which has to be mined. They also use cobalt and other materials that have to be mined. These materials aren't everywhere, which means there has to be a lot of cooperation between different countries to make the EV world work. If we all go EV-only, this could create problems. Political disputes could make it easier for some countries to impose sanctions on other countries. From what I understand the U.S. has a lot of its own lithium, but I think most of the cobalt comes from the Republic of Congo. I don't know how abundant the materials necessary to make batteries are. If batteries are to improve, I imagine we might use materials we're not necessarily using now, which makes the future somewhat unpredictable. A lot of us Americans don't mind importing goods from other countries, but we're uneasy about being dependent on other countries, like we are to a large extent on oil and gas. We don't have to be dependent on other countries for oil and gas. We just tend to prefer dependence to drilling and refining in our own country. But if we go all electric, we may have to be dependent on other countries in case we don't have all the raw materials to make the batteries we're going to need.

As far as I know, Tesla is the only company that has been able to make EV's profitable. With them lowering their prices all the time, it makes it very hard for anybody else to compete. Companies like Rivian may make good EV's, but if they can't turn a profit, they're going to go under. Telsa may become a monopoly. That's not so bad if you're an investor. Actually, I think there's an EV company in China that may be profitable. I'm not sure.

There are some advantages to EV's, though. Charging your car is probably less expensive than buying gas. If you just use your car to drive around town, and you can charge it at home while you sleep, you can avoiding going to gas stations and charging stations altogether. Also, there's the good acceleration. They also don't have as many moving parts, so the maintenance isn't going to be as frequent or costly, at least until the battery wears out. On the other hand, I've heard it can sometimes be a nightmare trying to get your EV serviced by Tesla, and normal auto mechanics can't help you.

I think EV's probably are going to be our future in spite of all these drawbacks. I suspect we'll just adjust. I mean they're still better than a horse and buggy. I'm going to keep driving gas powered cars, though, because at the moment, I don't think EV's are worth it. That is unless you live in a city, don't travel long distances, own a house, and maybe a second car that runs on gas. Then it might be worth it.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Food snobbery

Food snobbery is the enemy of innovation. With the exception of fresh fruit plucked right off the tree, every dish was invented at some point. Tacos, pizza, and sushi were all created by assembling different ingredients in a way that nature would never have produced if left to itself.

With that in mind I do not understand people who turn up their nose, roll their eyes, and say things like, "That's not authentic Mexican food," or, "You put what on your pizza?" or, "The Japanese don't put the wasabi in the soy sauce." I don't care if some dish isn't traditional or authentic. I care if it's good. I just want to enjoy my food. We can all thank the Italians for inventing the pizza, but New Yorkers made it better. Imagine a world in which food snobs insisted the rest of the world never improve upon the pizza.

There are a lot of dishes that have become their own thing, but they were inspired by something that came before. The Hawaiian's came up with spam musubi, which was inspired by sushi. Sushi snobs must've been having conniptions when that happened. Spam musubi is pretty good, though, especially when you use seasoned Korean nori.

I like avocado in my sushi, I like pineapple on my pizza, and I like tomatoes in my tacos. One of my favourite things in the world to eat is fajitas. Thank goodness the man who invented fajitas didn't have a food snob looking over his shoulder scolding him because it wasn't authentic Mexican food.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

An argument against the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics

I was just watching a new video by Sabine Hossenfelder about the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and I had an idea for an argument against Many Worlds. This argument is based on my flimsy understanding of physics, so take it with a grain of salt.

The many worlds interpretation is based on the idea that the wave function of a particle is real, and it never collapses. The wave function describes the movement of subatomic particles (like electrons) over time, and it gives you a probability distribution of where you should expect to find the particle if you were to try to measure it. You can observe the wave-like nature of particles using the double slit experiment. If you shoot a laser of photons or a beam of electrons through a double slit, it produces an interference pattern on the other side, which is what you would expect if there were a wave.

But the individual photons or electrons hit the wall in one particular spot. In the Copenhagen interpretation, this is understood to mean that the wave of probability collapsed to one particular result. Whereas the probability of where an electron might hit the wall is described by the wave function, it actually only hits in that one spot.

In the many worlds interpretation, though, the wave function doesn't collapse. Instead, the electron actually does hit the wall in each spot where it's possible it could have hit. This is possible because for each possibility, there is a branching universe in which it happens. We observe it hitting the wall in one spot because we're only in one of those branches at a time.

Since there's an interference pattern on the wall, that means there will be more branching universes in which the electron hits within the peaks of the probability distribution than in the valleys.

Since there is a branching universe with every possible outcome of every subatomic particle (including photons) in the universe, there are an unfathomable number of universes being generated each moment. For every possible scenario that could happen, given the laws of quantum mechanics, there is a branching universe in which it does happen.

If you take the many worlds interpetation seriously, you can have a lot of fun thinking about the other branching worlds that exist. In some of them, you are wildly successful because you made all the right decisions. In others, you've already been eaten by a bear. In several of them, you are Batman.

It's crazier than that, though. It also means that what we might usually think of as a miracle could happen purely by natural means. If the subatomic particles of a dead person could take a path resulting in them being rearranged in such a way as to cause the person to be alive, then a person could rise from the dead purely by natural means. It wouldn't be a miracle, but it would look like a miracle. It would be a wildly unlikely scenario, but since the location of each particle necessary to make the person alive exists somewhere in the probability distribution, and the wave function never collapses, then there are definitely worlds in which dead people come to life. Maybe this is one of them.

Now, let me get to the argument I came up with. If the wave function never collapses, and there's a different world for every possible outcome of every particle in the universe, then we should expect there to be a lot more universes in which the subatomic particles all randomly move in such a way as to kill us. I mean if my body kind of disintegrates because every particle went the wrong way, I would die. It seems more likely that given all the possibilities, there are more possibilities in which I die than in which I continue to live. Since I'm still alive, does this cast doubt on many worlds?

One response might be to invoke an observer selection effect. I can only observe worlds in which I live, so the fact that I'm not dead doesn't tell me anything. I would have to be in one of the rare worlds in which I live to be thinking about this.

But what about everybody else? Granted, I must be alive in a world in which I'm thinking about this, the same thing doesn't apply to everybody else. Shouldn't I observe a world in which I'm alive, but people are dropping like flies all around me? The fact that they aren't suggests that many worlds is probably not true.

As I was watching Sabine's video, I saw what might be the clue to a flaw in this argument. She made a distinction between a path integral and a measurement. She said the many worlds interpretation is about measurement outcomes, not path integrals. My argument kind of assumes the path integrals are spread out along a probability distribution.

But it seems to me that path integrals and measurement outcomes are related. If an electron hits the wall at a specific location, doesn't that tell you something about its path integral? It had to travel along some path to get there.

I don't know. I suspect there's something wrong with my argument, but I'm not sure what it is. Maybe the problem is in misunderstanding what a measurement even means. I take measurement to refer to causal interaction. When an electron hits the wall, that's essentially a measurement because it collapses to one specific result. So if the subatomic particles in our bodies are interacting with each other, they should be collapsing to specific locations all the time.

But I don't know. Electrons in orbitals seem to fill the orbitals. The whole reason they occupy spread out space, rather than specific points, is because they have wave functions. As I mentioned in a different post, the size of an electron is defined by its Compton wavelength. If they are waves, they can only exist in specific energy levels, just like how a guitar string can vibrate in different specific harmonics, but not just any-ole-where. An electron can only exist in specific orbitals, but not between them any-ole-where. So if electrons are in their wave-like states around all the atoms in my body, rather than some specific location, that seems to suggest that their wave functions are not collapsing, and they are not being "measured." If so, that would undermine my whole argument. Maybe that's why I'm wrong. I don't know, though.

Anywho, check out Sabine's video, but don't read the comment section. There's a lot of nonsense going on there. And yes, I do see the irony in that statement.

Edit (11/5/2023): I have decided this argument is completely flawed. If what I argued here were true, you wouldn't even need there to be a multiverse before you should expect people to be dropping like flies all around you. On the many worlds interpretation, many worlds exist, but you only observe one. The one you observe is every bit as random as the many others you might have observed. So even without all those worlds actually existing, people should be dropping like flies all around you because your path through life takes you through many random outcomes. If the mere randomness of the outcomes is enough to put our lives into jeopardy, then your life would be just as much in jeopardy under the Copenhagen interpretation. If we have nothing to fear from random quantum events on the Copenhagen interpretation, then we should have nothing to fear from the randomness of which world you happen to live in under the many worlds interpretation.